STEM in Action


“Students caught fire about the engineering behind the work. They were asking, ―“Can we try…? What happens if…?” They wanted to do more. My students don’t always make the connection between real-world work and school work. When they did the STEM in Action engineering project, they got it.”

—Nancy Johnson, 5th Grade Teacher Greenwood School, Waukegan, IL

Program Type

Curriculum/Instructional Materials
Hands on/Project-Based
College Readiness

Target Audience

All Students




Pre-K - 5

 Accomplished link

Program Impact

STEM in Action® has a vision to reach teachers and districts in EVERY state nationwide. The program has already reached more than 100,000 students, over 3,000 teachers, over 400 school districts in over 44 different states. Research shows classrooms using STEM in Action showed significant gains over their peers in: 1. interest in STEM, 2. content knowledge in science and math, and 3. understanding engineers as designers.


Program Overview

STEM in Action® is a supplemental, module-based curriculum for grades PreK-5 that harnesses the power of hands-on learning to inspire curiosity and nurture critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Modules follow the engineering design process of defining the problem, planning solutions, making a prototype, testing the prototype, reflecting, communicating results, and redesigning. There are 1–3 hands-on lessons for each step in the engineering design process (5–8 lessons total).

STEM in Action meets national and state science standards and incorporates three-dimensional learning with an emphasis on engineering as well as AUTHENTIC hands-on, problem-based learning. Each module also integrates science, math, and literacy practices and standards.

Developed in partnership with Purdue University and Texas A&M University, STEM in Action was tested in classrooms to ensure the lessons are teacher friendly, and the activities are fun and engaging for students. Each module strikes the perfect balance of rigor and ease of use.

How To Get Involved

We recommend each teacher implement STEM in Action with a minimum of three modules in order to cover the life, earth, and physical domains. Since each module focuses on a different engineering discipline, companies can support the teaching of each module by providing role models in the specific discipline. The cost of one module per teacher/classroom is $299. Based on a class of 30 students, the per-student cost for each module is about $10. 

Funders and Partners

Purdue University and Texas A&M University



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Design Principles

The programs in this database clear a high bar. STEMworks reviewed each program against the Design Principles for Effective STEM Philanthropy.

  • Accomplished
  • Developing
  • Undeveloped

Overarching Principles

  • Need

    Identify and target a compelling and well-defined need.

  • Evaluation

    Use rigorous evaluation to continuously measure and inform progress towards the compelling need identified.

  • Sustainability

    Ensure work is sustainable.

  • Replication and Scalability

    Demonstrate replicability and scalability.

  • Partnerships

    Create high impact partnerships

  • Capacity

    Ensure organizational capacity to achieve goals.

STEM Principles

  • Challenging and Relevant Content

    Offer challenging and relevant STEM content for the target audience

  • STEM Practices

    Incorporate and encourage STEM practices.

  • Inspiration

    Inspire interest and engagement in STEM.

  • Under-Represented Groups

    Identify and address the needs of under-represented groups.